metamorphosis – german chocolate lamingtons

by hungryrabbit on April 5, 2013

German Chocolate Lamingtons

Ever since I learned about Lamington, a cake that originates from Australia, I’ve been eager to explore it. In its original form, this popular creation named after Lord Lamington, Governor of Queensland, consisted of individual squares of sponge cake, dipped in chocolate, and coated with shredded coconut.  I love its pure architectural form—a cube of cake that you can eat with your hands.

I expect back in the late 19th century, though, Ozzies used proper utensils as they tasted the earliest versions. Later, the cake evolved with fillings such as chocolate, pastry cream, raspberry jam, or even lemon.

After seeing the different species, I wanted to come up with my own. I’ve been thinking about chocolate lately, but here was a serious drawback. Chocolate sponge cakes are only made with cocoa powder–not real chocolate. I wasn’t going to take that approach. I went into the kitchen lab, experimented with cross-breeding and came up with a solution–to maintain a real chocolate profile, I switched out the type of cake.

Since this metamorphosis succeeded, I’m eager to move to my next subject: applying the individual square cake concept to my future creations.


German Chocolate Lamingtons

yield: 16 cakes

Chocolate Cake


2 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa, sifted
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/4 cup boiling water
1 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (5 ounces), plus additional for dusting cake pans
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3-1/2 ounces)
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar (about 2-1/2 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon ure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons sour cream, room temperature


1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350℉. Combine chocolate, cocoa and espresso powder in small bowl; pour boiling water over and let stand to melt chocolate, about 30 seconds. Whisk until smooth; set aside until cooled to room temperature.

2. Spray 9-inch-square cake pan with nonstick cooking spray; line bottom with parchment. Spray paper, dust pan with flour, and knock out excess. Combine flour and baking soda in a small bowl, set aside.

3. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter, sugars, and salt at medium-low speed until sugar is moistened, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed.

4. Reduce speed to medium, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, scrape down bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low, add vanilla and room temperature chocolate mixture, then increase speed back to medium and beat until combined, about 30 seconds, (batter may appear broken).

5. With mixer running at low speed, add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream (in 2 additions), beginning and ending with dry ingredients, and beating in each addition until barely combined. Stir by hand with rubber spatula to finish mixing batter, scraping bottom and sides of bowl, to ensure that batter is homogenous (batter will be thick). Pour batter into prepared cake pan; spread batter to edges of pan with rubber spatula and smooth surfaces.

6. Bake cake until toothpick inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 25- 30 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert cake onto greased wire rack; peel off and discard parchment paper. Cool cake to room temperature before filling, about 1 hour.  With serrated knife, trim off dome, if necessary, on top of cake to level; cut cake horizontally into two even layers.

Coconut-Pecan Filling


2 large egg yolks
6 ounces evaporated milk (1/2 can)
1/2 cup (3-1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons (1-1/2 ounces) unsalted butter cut into small pieces
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, (about 3-1/2 ounces)
3/4 cup  (3 ounces) finely chopped pecans, toasted


1. Whisk yolks in medium saucepan; gradually whisk in evaporated milk. Add sugars, butter, and salt and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until mixture is boiling, frothy, and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

2. Remove from heat, whisk in vanilla, then stir in coconut. Transfer mixture to bowl and cool until just warm. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate, at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

3.  Stir toasted pecans into chilled filling. Carefully lift off top layer of cake and set aside. Using icing spatula, distribute filling evenly on cake, spreading filling to very edge of cake and leveling surface. Carefully place upper cake layer on top of filling.

Note:  Depends on how much you like to use, there might be extra filling,

Chocolate Icing and Assembly


6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons (1-1/2 ounces) unsalted butter
3/4 cups evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups (10 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
3 tablespoons boiling water
3 cups (6-3/4 ounces) unsweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup (3 ounces) pecan, finely chopped


1. Combine chocolate, butter, milk, espresso powder and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk until mixture is smooth and fully incorporated. Remove bowl from simmering water, whisk in the powdered sugar and cocoa powder until fully combined.

2. Cut cake with filling into sixteen squares and whisk boiling water into the icing. Combine coconut and pecans in a medium bowl.

3. Using two forks, dip one squaree into the chocolate, rolling them around to make sure each side is coated with the chocolate icing. Lift cake and briefly drip off excess back in the bowl. Place the cake in the coconut-pecan mixture, toss gently to coat all sides. Place cake on a wire rack and let stand until the icing firms up, about 30 minutes. Repeat with remain cakes.


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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary W. April 5, 2013 at 8:51 am

Question about this part: “Cool cakes to room temperature before filling, about 1 hour.”

I’ve read several times and can’t find anything about the filling? I see it in the photo, but I’m only see the outer coating in the recipe? Thanks…

hungryrabbit April 5, 2013 at 9:05 am

Hi Mary, I’m so glad you pointed that out. The section of filling mysteriously disappeared during my last edit. I’ve revised the recipe. Thanks again for being my copy editor to the rescue. Have a great weekend and happy baking. -Ken

Brian @ A Thought For Food April 5, 2013 at 9:28 am

The textures here are so lovely!!! I am now totally obsessed with trying it.

Betty Ann @Mango_Queen April 5, 2013 at 11:03 am

This chocolate lamingtons look heavenly! And your photos make them absolutely DIVINE! I was reading your recipe and it looks quite easy. Can I freeze them after making ? Have a splendid spring season, Ken!

hungryrabbit April 5, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Hi Betty-Ann, you can definitely freeze the cake before assembly. I have not tried but I don’t think the filling will hold up after being in the freezer. I’ll try freezing it when I make it again. -Ken

Sam Henderson April 6, 2013 at 5:38 pm

These look wonderful. I have never made this flavor before, but will now. I love the pic with the cake plate.

Colette @ JFF! April 8, 2013 at 6:08 pm


Rosie @ Blueberry Kitchen April 12, 2013 at 9:36 am

I’ve never had a lamington, but I really want want now! Yours look delicious!

Laurice April 19, 2013 at 5:44 pm

Love your recipe Ken. Every year on Australia Day (26th of January, summer here) my girls and I make lamingtons with banana cake. Also very yum, and very moist. Very Australian. Take care. Lx

hungryrabbit April 19, 2013 at 5:50 pm

Hi Laurice, I love the sound of banana cake. I just might hv to try that out myself. thanks for the idea. Happy Baking! -Ken

Aussie Anne May 21, 2013 at 11:01 am

Interesting idea but the Aussie in me says respectfully this is no longer a lamington. A lamington in Australia is generally only made with white or butter cake. I have not seen this deviated from during my life there. It is the simplicity of the plain cake, chocolate and coconut flavours that make lamingtons so divine. Much like the US combination of chocolate and peanut butter for Americans. I suspect at one time lamingtons may have been made with sponge cake (traditional recipes use very little fat so goes stale quickly) that had gone stale as a resourceful way to avoid waste. Using cake that is a day or two old makes the dipping for lamingtons much easier. The only variations I have seen of a chocolate lamington is a jelly (jello) or strawberry lamington but the cake is still white. I don’t doubt there are individuals who have tried to revamp the traditional lamington idea with different dipping flavours etc. but don’t think it has become popular. As a child growing up in Australia I remember schools and non-profit organizations having lamington drives which are kind of like a bake sale but people ordered the dozen/s of lamingtons they required (plain or jam/cream filled were the only options) ahead of time and then on a specified day you picked them up from school and delivered them. It was a great fundraiser. Enjoy your experimentation but treat my quintessential Australian lamington gently. :D

Annabelle November 24, 2013 at 11:02 am

I agree with Aussie Anne. Why change the original Lamington to
make a chocolate version of chocolate cake cut in cubes. A real Lamington also only uses dessicated coconut. I love them and thought this recipe sounds interesting but truly not a Lamington.

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